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With a blaze of color about the shoulders and a vintage feel, it’s hard to resist the charm of the Voe pullover. Being fans of colorwork knitting, we leap at any opportunity to explore Loft’s 37 shades and Voe doesn’t disappoint in offering the potential for many exciting combinations.

Take a closer look at Voe’s yoke, however, and you’ll discover that it’s not just its prospect of color exploration that we love so much. Punctuating the motif’s peaks and valleys are tiny dashes of woven color. Let’s explore how they got there.

Generally speaking, when working a colorwork yoke the contrasting yarn needs to be “floated” along on the wrong side of your knitting when not in use in order to prevent puckering on the fabric’s right side and snagging on the wrong side. With Voe, instead of trapping these floats on the wrong side, select stitches are slipped with the contrast color floated in front of the slipped stitch, a design element that is simultaneously textural and practical. Of course, weaving a contrast color on the right side of the fabric paired with colorful, geometric motifs are by no means a new coupling. Our Voe pullover gives an aesthetic nod to the Swedish Bohus Stickning design movement of the mid-20th century.

The Bohus Stickning movement was quite an interesting moment in knitting history. It came about when a collective of women in Bohuslän, Sweden approached Emma Jacobsson in the late 1930’s with an idea. These women were looking for ways to support themselves, their families, and their communities in a time of economic depression and decided that knitting would be their means.

Since knitting was an accessible craft that many women in rural Bohuslän were already familiar with, their cooperative found great success in making and selling their wares. But as their group grew and their collective talents were joined with other artists and makers in their community, the simply-designed sock and mitt patterns grew into the more complex and couture sweater designs that Bohus Stickning is best known for.

Though Emma Jacobsson and the women of Bohuslän closed their doors in 1969, we can continue to admire the digital archives of their designs online and acknowledge the artistic and industrious work of these amazing women in our knitting histories.

If you’re interested in learning more about this vivid moment in the history of knitting, we recommend Wendy Keele’s book Poems of Color (1995, Interweave Press) as well as the article “A Bohus Revival” by Sarah Pope in the Winter 2015/16 issue of Vogue Knitting.

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Slow fashion encourages the careful consideration of what we bring into our closets, the deep satisfaction of making or owning garments of quality, and extending the life of what we have already loved to pieces. It offers the opportunity to creatively express yourself which is at the heart of making itself.

In Part I of this series, you heard members of the Brooklyn Tweed team talk about their personal thoughts on the subject. Expanding upon those ideas, we compiled the following practical tips for anyone who is interested in slow fashion and is curious about how or where to begin.

Identify your personal style: Having a clear idea of what types of clothing you want to wear, including its fiber content and color palette, will help you identify your personal style and inform your choices on what to knit and how to assemble your wardrobe. Taking time to identify your personal style will make it easier to build a long-lasting wardrobe and avoid impulse purchases that won’t get much wear.

Create a vision for your wardrobe as a whole: Perhaps the most powerful way to take control of your wardrobe is to think of it holistically. When you plan your wardrobe as a whole, you can intentionally decide what your next project will be based on what type of garment will complement your existing, or ideal, wardrobe. Building a wardrobe with your personal style in mind will also help ensure you’re making garments that will flatter your body and inspire you to wear them with confidence.

To help plan your wardrobe, take the gauge swatches from sweaters and accessories you’ve made with you while shopping to help select yarn or fabrics in colors or prints that will coordinate across those knit garments. (If you’re new to swatching, read our Swatching 101 post here.) If you are shopping for ready-to-wear, look for pieces you can expect to wear a minimum of 30, 40, or even 50 times. (Raise your hand if you’ve joined the KonMari bandwagon!) By being intentional about what we bring into our homes, whether ready-made clothing or what’s being cast onto our needles, we can simultaneously eliminate waste and ensure we will find both joy and usefulness in what we create and wear.

Make “capsule” items you’ll wear for years to come: When pondering what to knit next, consider functional, classic garments that never go out of style. Think Aran cabling, Gansey pullovers, shawl-collar cardigans, and accessories such as watchcaps and go-with-anything cowls and scarves. When knitting or sewing wardrobe staples, make the most of your time and resources by creating items of clothing that you know will see years of use.

Consider the source of your materials: Take time to know the origins of your fiber. By working with sustainable materials, you can ensure you are supporting the environment as well as the people who work to bring the fiber to your hands. Wool sorted by breed — aka breed-specific wool — provides farmers with a higher wage than fibers that are sold to be jumbled together across breeds, and preserves the breeding stock of sheep that will continue to provide fiber for years to come.

Reclaim yarn from sweaters you already have: Your next project need not require the purchase of new yarn. Sweaters that you either already have in your closet or find secondhand offer the opportunity to give fibers another life. Perhaps you have wool languishing away in a UFO at the bottom of your knitting basket that you can unravel, wash, and recast as another garment that will give you greater joy while knitting and wearing. If you have a handknit sweater that doesn’t fit quite right or that no longer suits your style, but you can’t bear to part with it, reclaim the yarn for a new project.  

Start Small: Slow fashion, and the idea of making your own clothing, may seem overwhelming at first but it need not feel insurmountable. By following some or all of the steps above, we can each engage with the movement in ways that work for us as individuals, all the while adding enjoyment to our lives. There’s no need to knit or sew your entire wardrobe or go to great expense in order to participate in slow fashion. Start small by wearing one thing you have made every day. Accessories can be key here — a good, classic hat or scarf can carry you through the seasons. If you enjoy the process of making, you can slowly add to your handknit wardrobe one piece at a time and simultaneously express your creativity each and every day.

Join a community of crafters to learn and share knowledge about hand making clothing. Share your knowledge with one another through knitting groups or meet-ups designed to encourage learning more about your craft and making clothing. Local yarn stores, fabric stores, and crafting guilds are great sources for such gatherings. There are also robust communities online where you can connect with people with similar interests, such as Ravelry for knitters.

In closing, always keep in mind that the slow fashion movement comes from the desire to take control over how we clothe our bodies and is a non-judgmental process that originates with the individual, not from external forces. Just as the slow food movement taught us to take time to savor both the process and the product, slow fashion offers us makers the opportunity to thoughtfully consider how we wish to express ourselves through our creations. By being mindful about the materials we work with as well as the products we create, we can have a literal hand in how we both move through and impact our world day by day.

Thank you for joining us this month in our series focused on slow fashion. From hearing thoughts about slow fashion from members of the BT team to reading about how we incorporate slow fashion principles into our business to learning some tips about how to bring slow fashion aspects into your own daily practice, we hope you have found some nuggets of inspiration in these recent posts focused on the process and product of making.

We invite you to share with us below your own thoughts and comments about the slow fashion movement. We look forward to hearing what you have to say!

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There’s always extra room in our knitting bags for a hat that offers a relaxing knitting experience coupled with great style. With this in mind, we asked Brooklyn-based architect and knitwear designer Emily Greene to design our first Outpost pattern, and her wonderful unisex Hatch Hat really checks both boxes for us.

Requiring only the most basic of stitches (knit, purl, and simple decreases), Hatch is a fun and friendly pattern. Aside from a few transition rounds which might require your attention, the project’s ease and simplicity will allow you to knit while carrying on a conversation with friends or simply let your mind get into the meditative rhythm of the ribbing. Since the crown shaping can be worked from either the chart or written directions, we think everyone will be happy with this easy people-pleaser of a pattern.

Knit in texture-enhancing Arbor as either a beanie or classic watchcap, Hatch’s columned fabric opens up beautifully as it stretches slightly about the head. Its orderly progression through a scale of ribbings may make it the perfect topper for mathematical or engineering minds to knit (or receive)!

Intrigued? To tempt you further, for the month of October we’re offering Hatch with a little extra fanfare: as a kit in your choice of 30 timeless colors.

Should you, too decide to devote a little corner of your knitting bag to Hatch, we’d love to see your progress — you can share with the hashtag #HatchHat. We can’t wait to see your Hatches!

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Since clothing is an essential human necessity, an initial awareness of fast fashion’s pitfalls can be disheartening. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the scope of fast fashion and its range of issues, though, we choose to focus on things we can change by thoughtfully considering how our role as a business in the textile industry can support the burgeoning slow fashion movement.

In its present form, slow fashion has been steadily gaining a foothold in the crafting and making communities over the last decade. We find this movement and the conversations it inspires deeply significant, being firm believers in making intentional choices about the products we manufacture and design. By choosing to focus on quality over quantity, and striving to produce yarns and patterns that embody timeless style and lasting beauty, we can help to ensure our business practices are in line with the slow fashion principles.

As it is with slow fashion, traceability is also important to our work. By being able to identify the origins of a product and its production path at every step, we are able to ensure that our production processes are sound and our impact on the environment is as minimal as possible. Our breed-specific wool yarns are sourced from and support ranchers who are taking the time to care for their flocks of sheep (and their wooly coats). A breed-specific wool yarn preserves the natural character of each singular source of fiber, which in turn gives your finished garments unique personality.

Our domestic manufacturing efforts aim to bolster local communities and contribute a revenue source for domestic production facilities that are preserving textile traditions or changing the landscape of the textile industry in the United States. Working with mills and dye houses such as Harrisville Designs, Jagger Brothers, G.J. Littlewood and Sons, and Saco River Dyehouse gives us the opportunity to support companies that face the challenge of preserving and passing down their knowledge to the next generation.

In our knitwear design house, we strive to create patterns that are as thoroughly and thoughtfully considered as our breed-specific yarns. Patterns are developed over the course of a year and are designed to be wardrobe staples that will be of value for years, if not generations, to come. Each pattern undergoes a vigorous technical editing process before making its way to our talented sample knitters who knit each piece by hand. We aim to provide well-written and supported patterns that allow knitters to enjoy the process of creating garments by hand while simultaneously taking control of their wardrobe options.

Next week we’ll be continuing this discussion by providing some practical steps you can take with your own wardrobe in order to participate in slow fashion.

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The cooler months here in Portland, Oregon often find our hardy locals eschewing umbrellas to brave the rain in hoodies, and our obvious choice against the local elements is a knit hat tucked into a pocket or bag. Wanting this workhorse to serve faithfully through capricious downpours as well as fashion trends, we look for versatile hat patterns we trust. Our go-to lately has been Mawson, a watch cap released last summer to commemorate the launch of Shelter’s three marled hues.

During the crush of last year’s gift knitting season in our office — we lovingly called it our “Mawson holiday” — the BT crew knit a total of 12 Mawson hats. It wasn’t long before we reached for Arbor to try a modification of the original, and we wanted to share it with you, too.

Arbor’s Mawson uses the exact directions as the original Shelter version (the stretchy ribbed fabric makes for a standard fit for both DK and worsted weight yarns), and we even riffed a bit on the original, adding a half-twisted rib* version to highlight the worsted-spun stitch definition. As a slightly more fitted hat, the Arbor version makes a great foil against the wind. And a palette of 30 shades offers a chance for a sophisticated nod to a favorite piece of outerwear or even a beloved alma mater.

Even if you’re not as adventurous as the pattern’s namesake Australian explorer, Mawson’s rib cable cast on and unique double decreases may still bring you a few new discoveries in your knitting. Special crown decreases lay flat and make the hat completely reversible, while also forming a distinct three-legged crown shaping. (Andriknitsalot of Ravelry keenly observed the resemblance to a trillium flower.)

The humble back-and-forth of Mawson’s one knit, one purl stitch combo — any way you twist it — is both relaxing and handsome. Along with providing a meditative knitting process, it gives the fabric enough stretchiness and structure to allow slouch without flop.

We’re not sure yet which patterns will go viral across our BT knitting bags this fall, but this is one we have our eyes on as our thoughts turn happily to cooler weather!

* Our half-twisted rib variation simply involves working all the knit stitches TBL (through the back loop) on all even-numbered rounds. In other words, twist your knit stitches every other round to achieve this distinctive variation.

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Here at BT headquarters, we’re always on the lookout for accessory pairings to keep us covered from head to toe in wool. Since the launch of our Fall 17 collection, we’ve been queuing up all of the accessory patterns in the collection. First up on our collective needles are the Wallace wrap and the Huck beanie.

While some may hesitate to mix such rich motifs, we think that the textured patterning of Wallace coupled with the high-relief cables of Huck creates the perfect partnership of visual and tactile interest. Additionally, pairing Quarry and Arbor gives ample opportunity to play with fabric, drape, and color, adding another layer of visible interest to your wardrobe — not to mention, you’ll be plenty warm bundled up in all of that wool!

With color stories still fresh on our minds since our recent post about hue and value, we thought it’d be fun to play with some color combinations featuring our three new Quarry colorways for a Wallace wrap matched with some of the deep and nuanced hues of Arbor for a Huck beanie. Whether you color-coordinate your accessories with your wardrobe or prefer to knit contrasting accent pieces, we’ve compiled some curated palettes to suit many tastes.

Granite — Described as a steady, enduring, medium grey, we think that a Wallace wrap knit in Granite would pair wonderfully with a neutral Huck beanie knit up in either Parka, Degas, Cobbler, or Fleet.

Lapis — If you’re a knitter who prefers clear summer skies, a Wallace wrap knit with Lapis will surely keep the winter chill away. Brighten up your Wallace by pairing it with a Huck beanie knit with Tincture or Thaw. Alternatively, a dark-neutral version in the Porter or Dorado colorways would look equally stunning.

Garnet — A deep red flecked with pops of several bright colors including purple, rust, and gold, a Wallace wrap knit with this colorway is sure to excite your senses. A Huck beanie knit with either Klimt, Kettle, Nightfall, or Potion would complement your wrap quite nicely. 

It’s not too late to cast on your first, or maybe second, project for the #BTFall17KAL. Join in on the fun and start your accessory pairing today!

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Every October we pause and ponder on slow fashion: what it is and what it means to us as a company and as individuals. Though you may be hard-pressed to find a concrete definition of what this movement is all about as it moves in and out of our collective consciousness, Karen Templer of the Fringe Association blog writes that the intention behind starting the slow fashion conversation in our modern maker community was to celebrate “the small-batch, handmade, second-hand, well-loved, long-worn, known-origins wardrobe.”

Our vocation to continue supporting domestic textile production and empowering knitters with patterns that can become staples in their wardrobes feeds directly into the goals and outcomes of the slow fashion movement. Needless to say, all of us here at Brooklyn Tweed have a deep investment in slow fashion and thought we’d first share some thoughts on the subject from our staff and then invite you to join the conversation by commenting below.

Making one’s own clothing meant garments with higher quality fabric and craftsmanship, while exercising creativity and individuality. I continued to sew through high school and college and beyond. When my children were young, I made clothes, toys, and costumes.  The family was given matching pajama bottoms every year for Christmas. Eventually, I had less time due to family life, and then full-time work, to pursue sewing with the same passion and commitment. Quilting replaced sewing, then knitting replaced quilting. I still consider myself a sewer and a quilter but those activities require equipment and knitting is so very portable.

I feel that the pendulum is swinging and I’m interested in garment sewing again. It is like many activities in life — the more you do, the better you get, with the converse being true as well. Time away from the sewing machine has meant reacquainting myself with techniques and construction methods — not a bad way to spend one’s time.

The current Slow Fashion October trend doesn’t really speak to me because I was participating in slow fashion long before it was a thing. I wore hand-me-downs, bought used clothing, and made my own clothes as a way of life. While it’s interesting to see what people are doing for Slow Fashion October, I’m more inclined to keep doing my own thing which isn’t limited to a certain time period or social movement.

– Stephanie Engle, Production Coordinator

 

Slow fashion to me means being mindful of what I am choosing to wear, from considering who is making my clothes to the source of the materials to the working conditions of the maker. If I’m the maker, it also means taking time to pay attention to the design and being proud of creating something by my own hands that will be enjoyed by either myself or my loved ones.

– Jen Hurley, Office Manager

 

Fashion isn’t everything. But we all have to clothe ourselves, and I think how you choose to do that says a huge amount about your character. Many people don’t know the stories behind the clothes I wear: the hours it took to knit a sweater or charity shop in which I found my favorite woolly cardigan. And they don’t have to — but I do. 

– Anna Moore, Art Production Coordinator

 

To be honest, I’m still working on wrapping my head around the “slow” of slow fashion, specifically in the context of my making. I deeply respect its ethos, and after impulsively — and soullessly — dancing with fast fashion in my high school and early college years, I’ve learned the hard way exactly how crucial it is to tangibly exercise consciousness in the seemingly superficial act of clothing oneself. Thankfully, asking myself such questions as, “What is this? Where did this come from? How was this made? Will I wear it? Will I love it?” is every day becoming more and more an instinct. At some point in this learning process it just suddenly made a lot of sense to invest more in making my own garments, too.

And here lies the challenge for me. I do love knitting as a process, but I may actually be a 100% product knitter. Since I spend a lot of time thinking about how a project will fit in my rotation, as a matter of principle, the vision of the finished piece becomes the sole focus of my making, which quickly — defiantly — turns impatient. In other words, I value the slow of handmade, but still expect myself to work like a machine, to churn out pieces like a factory — hence the debilitating guilt when projects languish and incapacitating fear of failure or “wasted” time when planning a custom piece.

I don’t believe we should take garments at face value. Rather, I believe we should be constantly working to uncover the stories they tell about how they came to be and what those, in turn, say about their makers and their wearers. Yet for some reason I find it difficult to do this uncovering when it comes to my making. I find it difficult to accept my own processes as useful and illuminative in their own right.

Thankfully, I’ve recently found myself surrounded by amazing people who are actively pushing me to realize the value of the process in all of its unhurried, yet frighteningly spontaneous (to me), yet infinitely creative glory. So my work this month is to meet them halfway in this quest to understand “slow” by being kinder to myself, allowing mistakes, allowing room for “distractions” (sometimes a movie just begs to be watched without the stress to multitask!), accepting my limitations, and really, not worrying about failing too much.

– Korina Yoo, Creative Coordinator

“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” –  Mahatma Gandhi

There are so many elements of the fashion industry that are broken and harmful nowadays and I have always loved this quote for really stating this feeling so simply and strikingly. For me slow fashion means making my own clothes through sewing or knitting, buying from ethical producers, extending the life of a garment through mending, and resurrecting treasures from charity and thrift shops. It is not a frivolous privilege but a necessity.

– Lis Smith, Wholesale Specialist

 

Growing up in a family of crafters, sewing, thrifting, and embellishing clothes were just part of daily life. With three kids at home, figuring out how things were made and then making them ourselves was a necessity as well as useful entertainment. That early interest in craft led me to a degree in theatre with a focus in costume design and historical fashion — really digging into the process of how and why textiles and garments were created in the past and using that knowledge to create something new. I discovered the community aspect of crafting later, after ending up working in IT (like a lot of art majors). Finding a group of people to learn from, create with, and pass on skills to was hugely beneficial — and eventually allowed me to make a career jump to the knitting industry. So my introduction to slow fashion began in a communal, creative, knowledge-sharing environment.

From there, it was a natural progression from simply making things to learning about the real-world impact of the materials I was making things out of. How was this fabric or yarn made? Who is making it? Where is the fiber sourced from? Are the land and animals being managed ethically? Are workers receiving fair wages and working in safe conditions? What is the environmental consequence of commercial production? What materials can I use that support sustainability and ecologically sound practices? And realistically, how can I implement these considerations into daily life as a consumer and crafter, as well as encourage and enable others to do so?

The last, in particular, is a balancing act. Of course I want to make every new pattern I see, and to buy all the beautiful yarn and fabric I can get my hands on, but then I’m just back to fast fashioning my slow fashion — and how many of those projects will I actually finish? My goals for Slow Fashion October this year are to look before I leap (and purchase), to complete and use the things I make, and, I think most importantly, to explore how I can better share slow fashion with others who may not enjoy the same access to knowledge, materials, or simply time to craft that I am privileged to have.

– Kel Moore, Wholesale Specialist

 

I grew up wearing a uniform to school every day, so when it came time to dress myself in high school, and more importantly as an adult, I was at a bit of a loss. It’s taken me many, many years to realize that in making my own clothing, I’m able to identify how I want to dress and present myself to the world in a way that simply can’t be done with ready to wear clothing. Initially, I liked the challenge of making my own clothing, but what has become more meaningful to me is to be able to find my personal style through my creativity and handwork. 

— Christina Rondepierre, Marketing Coordinator

 

I have a lot of fraught feelings about Slow Fashion, mostly to do with how accessible it is. So often the rhetoric is about the individual: “This is what I am doing…” “My intentions are…” “These things matter to me…” While focusing on our individual actions is one step in the process of effecting change, it’s absolutely necessary to move beyond that at some point to consider “we,” “us,” and “our.”

More than anything else, Slow Fashion is about creating community and sharing knowledge. As makers, what are we doing to empower other makers and non-makers in our communities? When will we start hosting workshops on making, thrifting, and mending? When will we begin sharing our stashes and knowledge with those who don’t have the privilege to shop small or learn on their own?

It’s not enough to tell folks to not judge themselves if they are unable to legitimate their standing in this moment through the purchasing of known materials or garments, nor is it enough to linger on the sidelines cheering folks on. Let’s take to the streets arm in arm and work to inspire and share our knowledge with makers and non-makers alike. When we work together, we can make an impact on more closets than just our own.

– Jamie Maccarthy, Customer Service

Join us next week for Part 2 of this series, when we’ll share more about how Brooklyn Tweed’s story and business model reflects similar values as the slow fashion principles. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your own thoughts and responses to the above ideas and considerations.

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Introducing three new Quarry colors, just in time for winter knitting. Garnet and Lapis add brightness to the existing mineral-based hues, and Granite rounds out our grey and black palette, complementing Moonstone, Slate, and Obsidian.

To see these new colors knit up, we’ve re-knit Burnaby, Lancet, and Halus (shown above from right to left). Each hat can be knit with just one skein of Quarry — pick your new favorite color and knit away!

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Bon tricot! Glückliches stricken! ハッピーニット! Счастливого вязания!

Over the years, Brooklyn Tweed has occasionally released translations of individual patterns in languages other than English. For the first time ever, we’re pleased to announce that as of today, the entire 12-piece Fall 17 collection is now available in French, German, Japanese and Russian. We cherish knitting traditions from around the world as well as support diversity within our collective knitting culture. For these reasons, we chose to work with native-speaking translators who are knitters themselves to bring a full Brooklyn Tweed pattern collection to more knitters of the world. May these additional pattern translations help bridge the barrier when it comes to sharing handwork options globally.

When you purchase a Brooklyn Tweed pattern through our webstore or on Ravelry.com, the pattern PDF will automatically be available in all of its translations. The file name of each PDF designates its language. If you have already purchased a pattern from the Fall 17 collection, the translated versions are available to download in your BT account and/or Ravelry library. (If you’re purchased patterns from our webstore, read how to transfer them to your Ravelry library here.)

Additionally, our Pattern Translations page serves as a resource where you can find a list of all the translations available for Brooklyn Tweed patterns. This list is frequently updated as we’re committed to continuing to offer this service and sharing Brooklyn Tweed patterns with the world’s knitters.

Are there particular patterns from the BT Archives that you wish to see translated into a particular language? If so, leave us a comment below with the pattern name and language and we will add it to our wishlist!

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We’re ready as ever to start knitting for our fall and winter wardrobes, and are eager to have you cast on with us for Brooklyn Tweed’s Fall 17 Knitalong! From now through November 10th we’ll be knitting away at our favorite patterns from the Fall 17 collection.

In the Brooklyn Tweed Ravelry group there has been talk of knitting Hucks, Galloways, and Ginsbergs. Those of us here at BT Headquarters also have plans to knit a few Wallace wraps and Hunter vests. How about you?

Visit our Ravelry group KAL thread to share photos of your project as well as cheer your fellow knitters along. Feel free to use hashtags #BrooklynTweedKAL and #BTFall17KAL on Ravelry, Facebook, and Instagram to join in on the fun and so that we can see what you are making.

We can’t wait to knit along with you!

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